15th February 2018
In the archives of the National Library of Scotland, you can see a silent moving film of the unveiling of the Rutherglen Cenotaph on 26th October 1924 in the presence of an enormous crowd. The Imperial War Museum record says the Cenotaph contains 544 names.
The majority of these names are from the First World War which ended with the Armistice on 11th November 1918 – 100 years ago this year.
The Reformer reported that the bells were rung from the Town Hall – but against an atmosphere of mixed celebration and pain:
“The hoisting of the Union Jack was a signal. It seemed as if a fairy wand had passed over the Burgh…
But mingled with joy … there was a sad recollection of loved ones who had gone away…”
Over a million members of the British and Commonwealth forces died in the War – with many more crippled, gassed or suffering horrendous psychological damage. The Great War changed our country in many ways too.
In Rutherglen, Australia, a Memorial Park completed in 2007 shows the names of 115 men who died in WW1, many at Gallipoli. The trees planted in the park originated from cuttings brought back by soldiers returning from Gallipoli.
The toll of local deaths is inscribed on the cenotaphs in Rutherglen, Cambuslang and Westburn but on other memorials in club houses or places of work too. At Gilbertfield Road there is a cairn in memory of men who marched from Dechmont to Newton station going to the front.
1918 is now a long time ago but we should remember the sacrifice of the men from Rutherglen in fitting ways relevant to all our people, young and old.
These might include:
- A major exhibition of Rutherglen and its people in 1918, perhaps in the Town Hall
- A gathering of all the local Churches, religious groups, voluntary organisations and local people in Rutherglen at the Cenotaph for the November Armistice event
- A linked event with Rutherglen, Australia
I would be interested in any imaginative ideas on this. The men and women of 1918 are part of our collective heritage in Rutherglen and Cambuslang.